‘Very best in youth’: Abigail Mariam headed to Harvard, career in public policy –
APPLE VALLEY • Abigail Mariam was in eighth grade when she was bit by the service bug. Her uncle took her on a trip with his yoga group to serve peanut butter sandwiches to the homeless hanging around the former Forrest Park on Seventh Street in Victorville.
After experiencing firsthand what it felt like to help someone in need, she couldn’t shake the urge to give back to the community.
Now barely 18 years old and headed to Harvard University in the fall, the Granite Hills High School graduate has had a hand in projects benefiting younger students, animal shelters, cancer survivors, Haitian earthquake victims, Ugandan children, troops overseas and patients and families at St. Mary Medical Center — to name a few.
“I’m kind of a service freak,” Mariam said. “If I go a day without doing some kind of kindness I feel like I’m a bad person.”
Mariam’s commitment to service, along with her 5.0 academic record and stellar writing skills, have earned her the elite status as one of 23 students in the United States to be named 2011 Nestle’s Very Best in Youth.
Now in its 14th year, the Nestle program recognizes young people who have shown leadership and initiative to make a positive impact on the world. A judging panel comprised of Nestle executives, community leaders, former winners and parents reviewed more than 3,500 applications to choose this year’s winners, according to Nestle spokeswoman Cristina Bastida.
The winners get $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.
The winners will also be profiled in the book “Making a Difference Today for a Better Tomorrow,” which will be distributed nationwide to schools and youth organizations that can point to students like Mariam as role models.
“Honestly I was very surprised when I was accepted because I was looking at the profiles of past winners and I was very humbled to think that I could be put in the same league as these other incredible, incredible kids,” Mariam said.
Mariam and her parents will travel to Universal City on July 23 for the Nestle awards ceremony. For more information, visit www.Nestle-VeryBestinYouth.com/winners.
To read more about Mariam, see the full story in Friday’s Daily Press. Get complete stories every day with the “exactly as printed” Daily Press E-edition, only $5 per month! Click here to try it free for 7 days. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.